CLEVELAND, OH – The University at Buffalo men's basketball
team was unable to overcome an early 18-point deficit as a furious
second half rally came up short as the Bulls fell to Miami 73-59 in
their Mid-American Conference quarterfinal game at the Quicken
The Bulls scored the first bucket of the game, but the RedHawks responded with a 17-0 run, taking an early 14-point lead. UB continued to struggle from the floor in the opening half as the Bulls hit just four of their first 14 shots.
The Bulls trailed by as many as 18 in the first half with 7:05 left, but UB finished the half on a 10-3 run, cutting the Miami lead to 11 at the half. Redshirt sophomore Zach Filzen gave the Bulls a needed boost of the bench, hitting two of the three three-pointers that he attempted in the opening half.
The RedHawks didn't make it easy as they hit 56.3 percent of their shots from the floor, including 5-of-7 from behind the arc.
The Bulls began to heat up in the second half as they began to cut into the Miami lead. A three from senior Sean Smiley pulled the Bulls within five, which was the closest they had been since early in the first half. Smiley would get the Bulls even closer as another triple with 5:43 left pulled the Bulls within two at 56-54. However, a 5-0 Miami run put the RedHawks back up by seven points with just three minutes left to play. A three-point play from Calvin Betts put the Bulls within four, but that is the closest they would get. The RedHawks went on to hit 10-of-12 from the free throw line over the final 2:12 for the final margin.
Smiley led the way for the Bulls with 14 points as he closed out his career with a 4-for-5 performance from behind the arc. Pierce also finished in double figures with 12 points. John Boyer capped off an outstanding senior season with a game-high seven assists. Betts finished with a game-high 11 rebounds and seven points.
The RedHawks, who advance to take on No. 9 Ohio in tomorrow's semifinal, had four players in double figures led by 27 points from Kenny Hayes and 16 points from Julian Mavunga. As a team the RedHawks shot 57.9 percent from the floor and went to line 30 times, converting on 22 of them.
"Miami's two big guys were really big for them tonight and not only did we struggle to stop them, we also struggled making shots," said head coach Reggie Witherspoon. "We dug ourselves into too much of a hole and we had our chances to dig ourselves out, but Miami's big guys really stepped up."
The Bulls finish the season at 18-12, the fifth time in the last seven years the Bulls have had at least 17 wins.